A 49th Parallel Special Issue –
1968: A Fifty Year Retrospective
“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.” – Robert F. Kennedy, June 8th 1964.
49th Parallel is delighted to announce a forthcoming special issue devoted to the year 1968 and its impact in the fields of American Studies, Politics and International Relations. This fifty-year retrospective seeks to explore major events of this year through the concept of transformation; how and why did these events change the course of history in both an American and a global context? Within a contemporary transatlantic political climate heavily influenced by nostalgia, ‘dog-whistle’ coded racism and retrograde invocations to reclaim a lost ‘greatness’, it is easy to argue that little has changed. The United States of America is experiencing an escalation of tensions with North Korea; there are renewed threats of nuclear weapons being deployed; and the violence in Charlottesville is a stark reminder of the continued potency of White supremacist ideology in the American political landscape. The editors are keen to receive submissions focused not only on the socio-political events of 1968, but also those that engage with entertainment, pop-culture, sports, music and literature. What conclusions can we draw from the fact that Colin Kaepernick’s silent protests have resulted in his being ostracised by the NFL, half a century after the raised fists and black gloves of the Mexico City Olympics?
We also invite submissions which consider the role of Canada in and around 1968. Above the 49th Parallel, Justin Trudeau is Canadian Prime Minister fifty years after his father, Pierre Trudeau, first held that office. Trudeau enjoys tremendous social media popularity, is a self-identified feminist, and has a reputation as a liberal, ‘forward thinking’ political leader. Clashes between First Nation representatives and the police on Capitol Hill, at an event to mark one hundred and fifty years of Canadian sovereignty in 2017 suggest there is still much work to be done. Similarly, suggestions continue that Canada’s ongoing petroleum extraction in Alberta undermines its position as one of the most ardent voices on the global stage calling for greater conservation and environmental responsibility. What do these tensions reveal about the nature of ideas of ‘progress’? Is the promise of continued improvement always a fallacy predicated on the myth of a progressive history and the perpetual betterment of society? How are narratives constructed around these seminal moments, such as the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and what are the uses and burdens of these narratives in today’s political landscape? What can looking at these events tell us about our understanding of a history which Robert F. Kennedy suggests may never have existed at all?
Events from 1968 which submissions may want to discuss include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The ‘Tet’ offensive in Vietnam and the Mai Lai Massacre
- Capture of the USS Pueblo by North Korea
- Assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy
- The Civil Rights Act of 1968
- Glenville shootout and subsequent riots
- ‘Black Power’ podium protests at the Mexico City Olympic games
- Richard Nixon’s election as U.S. President
- Signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
- Anti-war protests of the Youth International Party
- NASA missions Apollo 7 & Apollo 8
- The Women’s Liberation Movement and the Miss America Pageant
- Formation of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs
- Separatist riot in Montreal at St-Jean-Baptiste Day Parade
- Unification of the Canadian Armed Forces
- Cinema releases of Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey & Night of the Living Dead
- 60 Minutes and Hawaii Five-0 making their TV debuts and Star Trek airing the first inter-racial kiss on U.S. Television.
- The Beatles release The White Album, Johnny Cash releases At Folsom Prison, Jimi Hendrix releases Electric Ladyland.
Submissions related to film, music, and the arts can take the form of reviews as well as article submissions. Articles should be between 6000-8000 words and adhere to Chicago Manual of Style referencing. For full submission guidelines, please see the Submissions page on the 49thParallel website. The deadline is 5th March 2018. Please submit articles and direct any enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.